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Rune Factory 4 Special (Switch) Review

by Bryan Rose - February 25, 2020, 12:01 am PST
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8

The only game that will let you use vegetables for weapons.

For those that want a bit more action in their farming simulators, the Rune Factory series may be more your style. Rune Factory 4 Special, A remake of the 3DS original released in 2012, does a nice job of blending both the action RPG and farming genres into a unique experience that is filled with hours of content.

The story has your character traveling to the town of Slephia to deliver a package when, suddenly, invaders take over and knock you out of your airship. You wind up in Selphia with little to no memory and are soon mistaken for royalty. Your role is to bring in as many tourists as possible by declaring orders all while exploring the town, making friends, and solving the mysteries that lie beyond Selphia.

The game’s story is fine, though kind of pedestrian. It revolves around a dragon named Ventuswill and the rune stones that surround Slephia. The characters you’ll meet along the way are nice, but they are kind of bland and uninteresting. There’s nothing wrong with them, but this was an aspect of the game I didn’t feel motivated to focus on as much as it felt like there wasn’t much there, though some characters, like Porcoline, do stand out.

There are three main types of gameplay. The first is pretty much like any other farming sim out there: you raise crops and animals, talk to townsfolk, get married, have a kid, that sort of thing. It’s not too different from Harvest Moon, though there is a much bigger emphasis on crafting weapons, accessories, and armor that are vital to clearing dungeons.

Action RPG gameplay is the second form of gameplay. Grinding is the best way to clear these segments, and the items that are dropped can lead to better armor and weapons through forging. This can get to be a bit of a chore, especially if you are looking for the right items to craft the armor that will allow you to advance, for example. Trekking through previous dungeons to find the right items for forging can also be tedious. Regardless, between the variety of weapons and the special abilities that you obtain along the way, the action of Rune Factory can be pretty deep and rewarding.

The final major gameplay element has you acting as royalty. Accumulating Prince Points by doing various tasks will allow you to issue Orders that have a wide variety of effects, from declaring holiday events and expanding your storage space to even adding monster barns that allow you to house monsters that will help you out on the farm. It seems relatively minor compared to the other parts of the game, but it’s a helpful tool to expand your ranch and create more ways to interact with the townsfolk.

Rune Factory 4 Special is a remake of a 3DS game, which is pretty evident at first glance. It’s been upgraded to HD, but the graphics and music, while pleasant, do come off as outdated. The new features include Newlywed mode, which adds new storylines based on the person you marry, and Another Episode, which contains visual novel-like cutscenes with spouses. These are somewhat interesting, but not overly important unless you’re really into the relationship aspect of the game.

I enjoyed my time with Rune Factory 4 Special. It caters well to both farming sim enthusiasts and RPG players who want a little more action in between shipping crops and courting that special someone. I do admire the developer’s ability to blend all of this into one cohesive game, as there’s tons of things to do here and it can take hours to accomplish everything. Grinding can be a little grating, but Rune Factory’s positives far outweigh the negatives.

Summary

Pros
  • Continual sense of rewardment
  • Solid action gameplay
  • Tons to do
Cons
  • Grinding for the right items can take a while
  • Some characters are bland
  • Visuals are slightly dated

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Game Profile

Genre RPG
Developer Neverland Company
Players1

Worldwide Releases

na: Rune Factory 4 Special
Release Feb 25, 2020
PublisherXseed Games
RatingTeen
jpn: Rune Factory 4 Special
Release Jul 25, 2019
PublisherMarvelous AQL
RatingAll Ages
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